A team-by-team preview for Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 boys volleyball for the 2023 season:
CEDAR CREST FALCONS
COACH: Monica Sheaffer (4th season in South Lebanon Township).
2022 REVIEW: 6-6 league, 9-8 overall.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Judah Wise (Section 1 second-team all-star).
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Nick Bensing, Danny Peelen (Section 1 first-team all-star), Tate Tadajweski, Aaron Walters, Jack Wolgemuth (Section 1 second-team all-star).
NOTES: Looking for a sleeper team to climb the ranks and push the usual suspects in the Section 1 race? Don’t sleep on this Falcons’ crew, who have been making plenty of noise the last couple of years. And with a vet nucleus returning, Cedar Crest is ready to pounce. … Jack-of-all-trades Judah Wise will be missed. But there are plenty of weapons in the Falcons’ arsenal, including scrappy libero Jack Wolgemuth, pin-hitters Tate Tadajweski, Nick Bensing and Danny Peelen, and Aaron Walters in the middle. That group helped push Cedar Crest to a .500 mark in the rugged Section 1 hunt last spring, and they’re thinking even bigger this time around. And rightfully so. … Kicked off their season in Cocalico’s tournament last weekend, so the Falcons have already hit the court. And Cedar Crest won the JV tourney there, so the kids are in the pipeline.
QUOTABLE: “My squad is a great group of guys who love volleyball. They’re itching to start playing and show the league how hard they’ve worked this past offseason. Our goal is to win as much as possible.” — Monica Sheaffer
CONESTOGA VALLEY BUCKSKINS
COACH: Blake Youndt (9th season in Witmer).
2022 REVIEW: 7-5 league, 8-8 overall.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Camden Clapper (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A third-team all-star), Kyle Hutchinson (Section 1 second-team all-star), Kenji Pha (Section 1 second-team all-star), Jayden Rice.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Garrett Funck, Carson Hoover (Section 1 second-team all-star), Andrew Hulstrand, Mason Tardibuono.
NOTES: CV’s “key players lost” list is a tad daunting; Camden Clapper, Kyle Hutchinson and Kenji Pha were league all-stars, and Jayden Rice was a crackerjack swinger up front. But the Bucks’ cupboard is not bare, and vet skipper Blake Youndt already has his squad firing on all cylinders; CV topped Penn Manor in the championship match to claim the title at the Bucks’ season-opening tournament last Saturday, so Youndt’s crew already has some mo going. … Carson Hoover is a returning all-star, and he’ll roam the outside, along with Mason Tardibuono, who also has some experience up front. Garrett Funck has the middle covered, and Andrew Hulstrand should get more setting and passing opportunities now that Pha has departed. … The Bucks always find a way to be contenders in Section 1, and they’re itching to get back to the postseason after missing out last spring. Don’t sleep on this crew.
QUOTABLE: “We have a team that is working hard to improve every day, and we’ve made good progress in the first two weeks of the season. But we need to make sure we continue to work to make sure that we can compete with the teams we’ll be seeing this year.” — Blake Youndt
HEMPFIELD BLACK KNIGHTS
COACH: Kenny Eiser (2nd season in Landisville).
2022 REVIEW: 11-1 league (Co-Section 1 champs with Warwick), 13-4 overall (Lost to Warwick in the L-L League championship match; lost to eventual runner-up Cumberland Valley in the District 3 Class 3A quarterfinals).
Hempfield tops Lancaster Mennonite, Warwick outlasts Garden Spot to set up L-L League volleyball championship clash
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Caden Bonner (Section 1 MVP; Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A second-team all-star), Dante Keener (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A third-team all-star), Mason Orth (PVCA all-state selection; District 3 Class 3A first-team all-star; Section 1 first-team all-star), Cole Overbaugh (Section 1 second-team all-star), Parker Wolfe.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Aiden Beiler, Ethan Earhart (Section 1 second-team all-star).
NOTES: Graduation was not kind to the Knights; Caden Bonner, the Section 1 MVP last spring, was a jack-of-all-trades kid who could pass with the best of them, and Mason Orth was the glue, contributing in the back and at the pins. Meanwhile, Dante Keener, Cole Overbaugh and Parker Wolfe were all reliable swingers and finishers up front. They’ll all be missed. … The good news is that Aiden Beiler and Ethan Earhart got ample chances in the front row last spring, so Hempfield will have a pair of reliable swingers at the net. And that’s certainly a great start. But Kenny Eiser — set for his second season on the bench after taking over for Mike Vogel in 2022 — is tasked with finding a full-time setter and defensive specialists to surround Beiler and Earhart. Hey, this is Hempfield. The Knights have been gutted by graduation plenty of times in the past, and never skipped a beat. There are no fingers hovering around any panic buttons in Landisville. But there is some work to be done. … The always popular — and ultra competitive — Hempfield Joust season-opening tournament is now named after Vogel, the Knights’ longtime coach who stepped down with a staggering resume after the 2021 season. This year’s Vogel Joust is set for March 25. … Not only will Hempfield host the Joust, but the Knights are ticketed to participate in the Bobcat Invitational at Northeastern York on April 1, the Koller Classic at Central York in mid-April, and in the State College Invitational in late April. The Knights will be chiseled come playoff time.
QUOTABLE: “We have a lot of positions that are truly up in the air right now. The nature of turning over five starters — especially losing an all-state libero (Orth) and a District 3 all-star setter (Bonner) — leaves uncertainty in most areas. With that said, we are blessed to have a number of different options to fill each role. There are going to be some exciting positional battles at practice, and I’m looking forward to seeing them grow as individuals — but mostly as a team.” — Kenny Eiser
MANHEIM TOWNSHIP BLUE STREAKS
COACH: Caleb Roberts (1st season in Neffsville).
2022 REVIEW: 1-11 league, 1-15 overall.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Arnav Dixit (Section 1 second-team all-star).
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Conner Himelfarb, Jack Kline.
NOTES: More turnover in the head-coaching department at Township, where Caleb Roberts takes over for Eleanor Schultz, who spent the last two years on the Streaks’ bench. … Roberts, fresh out of college after playing volleyball locally for Lancaster Bible College, will lean on Conner Himelfarb on the outside and Jack Kline in the middle to be key cogs in his system. Township must replace Arnav Dixit and his setting skills, and Roberts is hoping that his Streaks can improve their service game. That’s a top priority on his to-do list, as Township looks to serve and volley its way back into contention.
QUOTABLE: “Our goal this year is to win games. We want to be tough competitors in the league, and we need to build credit as a program. The past few years have been tough for the team. They’re coming off a year only winning one match, and that can be a discouraging way to enter a new season. But this team has poured a lot of time this past offseason into the sport, and I truly believe this is a team that can win games. It will come down to how much they buy into that goal.” — Caleb Roberts
McCASKEY RED TORNADO
COACH: Jeff Kindrew (11th season in Tornado Alley).
2022 REVIEW: 1-11 league, 2-13 overall.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Johnaxidier Lugo, Donavin Rom.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Leo Anavitate, Garrison Fleuronville, Javin Sierra, Wah Say.
NOTES: Johnaxidier Lugo did a little bit of everything for the Tornado, and he’ll be missed in the rotation for sure. But vet skipper Jeff Kindrew does have a nice nucleus to build around, including holdover middle Javin Sierra and Wah Say at the libero spot. Expect Leo Anavitate and Garrison Fleuronville to get more opportunities in the front row this time around, as McCaskey keeps building, keeps taking steps forward, and makes everyone earn it.
QUOTABLE: “We have good height at the net, so hitting and blocking should be a strength. I think we need to work on serve receive to make us stronger. As always, we’re striving to be competitive in a tough section.” — Jeff Kindrew
PENN MANOR COMETS
COACH: Chris Telesco (18th season in charge of the Comets, and he’s back after stepping away from the program the last two years).
2022 REVIEW: 5-7 league, 6-8 overall.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Max Bushong (Section 1 second-team all-star), Derek Warfel (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A third-team all-star).
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Elijah Julian, Roman Keefer, Wyatt Rohrer, Luke Thomas.
NOTES: Welcome back, Mr. Telesco. He stepped down after 17 unforgettable seasons after the 2020 campaign after leading Penn Manor to 452 victories, 16 District 3 playoff trips, a trio of section championships, three L-L League crowns, a pair of D3 titles, three PIAA quarterfinal appearances and one trip to a state finale. Dustin Hornberger and then Brian Kemrer guided the Comets over the last two seasons, but Telesco gained school board approval earlier this winter, and he’s back in the saddle in Millersville. … Comets will miss Max Bushong’s D in the back and Derek Warfel's powerful swing up front, but there are some familiar faces due back. Telesco raved about setter Wyatt Rohrer’s leadership capabilities, and Elijah Julian, at libero, should help Rohrer in the D department in the back. … Roman Keefer and Luke Thomas are experienced blockers in the middle, and that’s also a great start for a Penn Manor squad itching to get back to the postseason and push usual-suspects Warwick and Hempfield for section supremacy. … Encouraging start for the Comets: Penn Manor reached the finals in Conestoga Valley’s season-opening tournament, but fell to the host Buckskins. And don’t underestimate this: The Comets are playing a heavy duty nonleague slate, with a trip to powerhouse Central Dauphin coming up early in the season, plus a spot in the tough-as-nails Koller Classic at Central York in mid-April, and a date vs. Wilson in May. Penn Manor should be battle-tested for the stretch drive. ... FYI: The Comets KO'd Central Dauphin 3-1 in a nonleague match. CD is the reigning D3-3A champ, and the Rams opened the season ranked No. 10 in the state in Class 3A by PVCA.
QUOTABLE: “If there was ever a squad to come out of retirement for, it’s this one. I see hunger in these boys, and I’m certain that will payoff over the long haul.” — Chris Telesco
Chris Telesco returning to Penn Manor's boys volleyball bench, one of 4 new skippers around L-L League
COACH: Foster Lobb (1st season at Warwick, his alma mater).
2022 REVIEW: 11-1 league (Co-Section 1 champs with Hempfield), 18-3 overall (Beat Hempfield in the L-L League championship match; lost to eventual champ Central Dauphin in the District 3 Class 3A semifinals; beat Palmyra in the District 3 Class 3A third-place match; lost to Northampton in the first round of PIAA Class 3A playoffs).
District 3 volleyball semifinals: Warwick tripped up by Central Dauphin; Garden Spot falls to Lower Dauphin
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Primo Campagna, Adam Gingrich (Section 1 second-team all-star), Jacob Lobb (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A first-team all-star).
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Kyle Charles (PVCA all-state selection; District 3 Class 3A first-team all-star; Section 1 first-team all-star), Seth Graybill (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A second-team all-star), Bryn Hess, Landon Wenger (Section 1 first-team all-star; District 3 Class 3A second-team all-star), Nathan Wenger.
NOTES: Welcome home, Foster Lobb. The former Warriors’ spike fiend is Warwick’s new skipper, and he’ll slide in for his former coach, Nate Gajecki. All Gajecki did was chisel the Warriors’ program into one of the best in the league, culminating with an L-L title last spring, plus multiple deep postseason sojourns over the last several years. Huge shoes to fill for Mr. Lobb, but he has a terrific nucleus at his disposal — and he has plenty of volleyball chops, after recently wrapping up a standout career for Eastern University, where he was a 3-time conference all-star pick. … Lobb’s little brother, jumping-jack Jacob Lobb, has moved on, along with another swinger, Primo Campagna, and defensive wiz Adam Gingrich in the back. But there is plenty to like in Lititz: Kyle Charles, who has gone from setting specialist as a freshman to feared hitter heading into his junior year, will garner plenty of attention up front coming off an all-state season, along with hitting pals Bryn Hess, Seth Graybill and Landon Wenger up front. The setter spot is in the very capable hands of Nathan Wenger. … After finishing the 2022 season ranked No. 8 in the state in Class 3A by the PVCA, the Warriors will open this season at No. 3 in that poll. … Section 1 favorites for sure. And should be plenty motivated to do more damage after a quick PIAA exit last spring — especially with so many key-cogs back in tow. Don’t miss the Warriors in your travels this spring.
PVCA 2023 PRESEASON STATE RANKINGS
QUOTABLE: “I’m stepping into a program with high expectations and a team that is one step away from building off of another successful season. We lost some big leaders and players with great energy from last year. I’m excited to see which of our returning players step up to the occasion and take this team to another league title — and more.” — Foster Lobb